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Kenya coach upbeat about medal
chances at Commonwealth Games 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s rugby head coach Innocent Simiyu is optimistic that his team will secure a medal at the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia from April 13 to 15.

The Kenya team will face giants New Zealand, Canada and fellow African side Zambia in Pool C of the competition, which brings together 71 countries and regions from six different continents which make up the commonwealth.

“Kenya is in a tough pool but we believe we have done our homework well and trust the players will play with pride and impress us all. Our key focus is to meet our performance targets especially in attack. Hopefully we will get the results we all want,” Simiyu said on Thursday.

Kenya needs to improve on its performance at the Club Games having finished fourth in Delhi, India in 2010 and in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Kenya missed out on medals after South Africa beat the reigning champions New Zealand in the final with Australia and Samoa finishing third and fourth respectively.

“The team is playing well in the World Series and we believe they still have a lot to play for in Gold Coast,” said Simiyu.

Meanwhile, the Kenya’s women rugby team, the Lionesses, have been drawn against Africa opposition after the pools for the women’s rugby sevens competitions at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast were released.

Kenya faces South Africa, New Zealand and Canada in Pool A while Pool B has Australia, Fiji, England and Wales. South Africa and Kenya will be the only teams at the Commonwealth Games from the Africa continent.

At this level of competition, there are no easy draws. The top two teams will progress from each pool for the semifinals.

There will be 16 men’s teams in the competition. Unlike many events at the Commonwealth Games, which lack top teams, in rugby it is only a step below the Olympic Games given that only France and the USA are missing from the world’s top ten sides in attendance.

For Africa, apart from Kenya and South Africa, there will be no Zimbabwe, who withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 and have not competed at the Games since Manchester in 2002.

However, it will be Uganda’s fourth consecutive participation in a rugby sevens tournament at the Games, after they qualified for the first time at Melbourne 2006. Zambia will make their debut appearance in the competition.

The two nations join fellow African countries Kenya and South Africa, who qualified due to their World Rugby Sevens Series ranking.

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